A state lawmaker in Florida wants to create a rating system for parents of schoolchildren, according to a piece by Leslie Postal and Denise-Marie Balona in the Orlando Sentinel. Is this woman serious? Giving parents an actual grade on whether they measure up to schools’ expectations? So that schools can ... what?
Look, I am terribly passionate about the degree to which parents matter in their children’s education. Kids come to kindergarten with massive gaps attributable to their home lives, and it makes me ill to see what passes for parenting of many children I have spent time watching on the job. I do think it is crazy to pretend that these deficiencies don’t matter, and that making up for them doesn’t require huge investments. But guess what? Schools have to educate kids no matter what—or else why even have schools? Schools are graded because a governmental entity has jurisdiction over them; this is called accountability. Outside of abuse and neglect and truancy, nobody has jurisidiction over parents, and thus they can’t be held accountable for things we agree matter but that aren’t the law.
Possible outcomes of such a policy: Home-school relationships that are even more strained, if not combative. Schools given what amounts to a handy excuse for not doing better by kids. What good could come of this? The parent who doesn’t bring her children to school or feed them breakfast or return a teacher’s phone call is not likely to be shamed by getting a D on her kid’s report card. If she even reads it.